D. Raja backs Tamil Nadu govt's decision to release Rajiv Gandhi's assassins
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja has welcomed the decision of the Tamil Nadu government to set free all seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
"There is no politics. I don't see it as political issue. It is a legal Constitutional issue. Now, the Supreme Court gave the verdict. Supreme itself commuted their death sentence into life term. And Supreme Court as pointed out, if state decide to release them, state can do," Raja told media here.
"And within the powers available under Constitution these Tamil Nadu state government decided to release them. I do not find anything wrong in the decision of the Tami Nadu government. It is not one party decision. It is Tamil Nadu government decision," Raja added.
On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had said that the state cabinet will apply powers applicable to it under the Constitution to release the three convicted assassinators of Rajiv Gandhi -- Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan -- if the Central Government failed to act on the same within the next three days.
Making a suo moto statement in the Tamil Nadu State Assembly, Jayalalithaa had said a decision to this effect would be conveyed to the Central Government as per Indian Constitution and as per Section 435 of the Criminal Procedure Code or Cr.PC.
She also said that the other convicts who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, namely, Nalini, Jayakumar, Robert Paes and Ravichandran, would also be released.
Jayalalithaa also said that the state government if of the view that since the six persons in question have already spent 23 years of their lives in prison, the life sentence imposed on them by the Supreme Court does not apply, and as per principles of natural justice, they should be released.
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday commuted the death sentence of three men to life in prison.
Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan had petitioned the apex court against their death sentence, arguing that there had been an exceptional delay in a decision on their mercy pleas.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam delivered its judgement on these mercy pleas.
The Centre had earlier opposed these pleas, arguing that the convicts were not tortured, nor had they experienced agony or a dehumanising experience during the pendency of the mercy pleas.
Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber at an election rally in Sriperumbedur on May 21, 1991. Fourteen other people also lost their lives in that blast.
In 1999, Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan were sentenced to death by the Supreme Court for being part of the group that conspired to kill Gandhi.
Their mercy petitions were sent to the President of India, the last stage in the process of appeals, in 2000, and was rejected 11 years later. Their hanging was stayed in 2011 on the orders of the Madras High Court.
(Posted on 20-02-2014)